Farron: Lib Dems will not make a pact with Corbyn’s Labour

Tim Farron went to Stoke-on-Trent yesterday to persuade students to register to vote ahead of today’s deadline.

While he was there, he spoke to the Huffington Post. He was asked about reports over the weekend that Labour were seeking an alliance with us in Stoke. Not much chance of that, he said. How can you have a progressive alliance with people who are not progressive?

When asked if Corbyn was keen for a pact, he said: “If he’s doing it he’s doing it via gunboat diplomacy as I only hear it via the media.

“No direct approach has been made at all.”

He added: “The notion that we want to be aligned with any of the parties, or stand down in favour of one of the parties, who is backing a hard Brexit – well, what good would that do the national message? What good would that do those people in the country, who I believe to be the majority, who don’t want a hard Brexit.

“How can you have a progressive alliance with somebody who’s not progressive?”

 But he was more sympathetic to the idea of working with one Green in particular:

What the Greens did, and what Caroline Lucas personally did, very bravely, made a difference in Richmond Park and my sense is Caroline Lucas herself is clearly a very strong force for good and I want her to continue to be a force for good and in parliament so I don’t rule anything out in terms of us talking in the future.

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  • I’m completely with Tim on this; Labour are so toxic and tribal that we simply have to fight them everywhere. I would be relaxed about giving Brighton Pavilion a miss at the next general election, and encouraging activists there to get stuck into gaining whatever Lewes looks like after the boundary commission have finished with it.

  • Richard Warren 7th Feb '17 - 1:49pm

    Agree with Tim and tpfkar

    Corbyn did his best to scupper our chances in Richmond Park by insisting there was a Labour candidate, and not even allowing the local Labour party to vote on that. Why would we want to help him now?!

  • Eddie Sammon 7th Feb '17 - 3:12pm

    Not doing a deal with Corbyn is right, but let’s not let the Greens off the hook entirely. The Greens under Natalie Bennett was similar to Labour under Corbyn, so how much has changed? Caroline Lucas is not Natalie Bennett, but there are still areas of disagreement (counter-terrorism, for example).

  • David Evershed 7th Feb '17 - 3:12pm

    In principle we agree with Labour on social liberalism bur disagree with them on economic liberalism.

    In principle we agree with Conservatives on economic liberalism but disagree with them on social liberalism.

    Lib Dems need to remain equi-distant from Labour and Conservative if we are to be seen as a distinctive political party and not Labour Lite.

  • Little Jackie Paper 7th Feb '17 - 3:46pm

    I hate to be the one that asks this, but what exactly would this alliance I keep hearing about offer? Presumably at a minimum it would involve some parties not running a candidate and endorsing another. At a maximum this could be what? Joint leafleting, activist support, shared activity and perhaps data-sharing. Obviously that’s a pretty big range but I don’t think anyone’s really said where in that range they are proposing.

    Also I’d have to ask whether anyone (stress, anyone) could promise their endorsement means all that much. The level of UKIP support in traditional Labour areas makes me at least question how much support a Labour endorsement would bring. We perhaps should not duck that the LDP couldn’t deliver about a third of its voters to REMAIN. The Greens, well, given their leadership it’s never been clear to me exactly what voters they represent. This talk about alliances always feels a bit like forgetting the voters. More generally I’m always a bit dubious about how far a, ‘get the tories,’ message really enthuses anyone other than in the short-term.

    I don’t want to be too down on the idea of an alliance. The lesson of the past few decades is that Conservatives unite and win. Non-Conservatives don’t unite and they lose. From time to time we all need to dwell on that.

    It’s just that in all the talk about alliances I see plenty of froth but not much beer.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Feb '17 - 3:48pm


    Different wings have more ideas in common.

    The bleeding hesrt libersl left , sorry , no other way to say it, in the Liberal Democrats have a lot in common with the G

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Feb '17 - 3:56pm

    Eddie , contnd,

    Apology , typo and techno errors .

    As I said , or attempted to, that side of the Liberal Democrat tradition has much in common with Greens.Even with Corbyn though not his main followers .

    The centre right of the party has a good bit in common with Bright Blue liberal Conservatives and Progress Labour.

    The mainstream ex SDP Roy Jenkins adherents, Shirley Williams etc., have a significant amount in common with the Nel Kinnock types in Labour yet.

    Parties are coalitions. One of my favourite people in politics is Ruth Davidson. Maybe I am a Scottish Conservative !

  • I find it quite hard to believe, frankly, that members of our party want to talk about alliances and pacts. This party almost died 18 months ago, because we had allowed ourselves to become so close to another party (the Tories) that the voters couldn’t distinguish our identity. Our recovery, if nothing else, depends on us building and keeping our own distinct identity in the minds of the voters. Yet it seems there are some who still don’t understand this, and want us to grab at any passing party in order to dilute our identity again.
    I was depressed by the selfishness of Messrs Ashdown and George over the weekend. It must be great to be an ‘elder statesman’ and to be able to talk about pacts to your media pals without thinking of the impact your words will have on the poor bloody activists delivering leaflets in the freezing cold in Stoke and Copeland.

  • Incidentally, in Scotland the Greens are basically an extension of the SNP – as they showed only last week in Holyrood. They have long since given up pretence of being a party that prioritises the environment. They are now all about independence. I don’t think we will be linking up with them anytime soon.

  • I don’t think UKIP will win in Stoke. They’re on the wane and only do well on the South Coast. Labour’s problem is that they see white working class people as uncivilised and believe they need to be guided by missionaries, lest they become inflamed. The reality is that even when grooming scandals rocked labour seats the Far Right made no headway whatsoever.

  • Jack Watson 7th Feb '17 - 4:12pm

    I’m frustrated that standing aside for Labour in Stroke-on-Trent is being so quickly disregarded. I’m by no means a fan of Corbyn, nor Labour’s recent embrace of leaving the EU. However I do not feel we can reasonably hold them in equal content with UKIP. UKIP’s leader is pro-Trump, anti-immigration, a denier of man-made climate change and a hardcore Brexiteer. Labour are at best lukewarm on Brexit and their candidate is no Corbynista. He might reluctantly back leaving but Paul Nuttall MP would be not only cheering the government on but dragging them further and further rightwards.

    We all know that a Lib Dem is not going to win this 70% leave seat. We might not like Labour but standing against them at risk of UKIP winning is an empty gesture. Our candidacy in Stoke-on-Trent is like Gary Johnson’s candidacy for the White House: never going to get anywhere. Clinton was the only one who stood a chance against Trump, just as Labour are the only party who might beat UKIP. I think as a party we need to consider putting our ego aside and reluctantly backing Labour over UKIP. It’s just the right thing to do.

  • paul barker 7th Feb '17 - 4:22pm

    There is a large “Progressive” minority in both Labour &” The Greens”(ie The GPEW) but how do you co-operate with a minority ? Local deals are one thing but National deals are out. Even Local deals are probably impossible with Labour because they have no tradition of letting Local Parties make them, unlike The GPEW.
    For now we have to fight Labour everywhere.

  • Jack Watson: have you been to Stoke Central, do you know the area, have you any real idea of what is happening on the ground. You will be very surprised.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Feb '17 - 4:54pm

    Tim Farron is right to reject the idea of an electoral pact with Labour. But it seems a pity that he seems to suggest that he only opposes the idea because of Labour’s position on Brexit.
    An electoral pact with Labour would be wrong, whatever Labour’s position on Brexit was. So would a pact with the Greens, or any other party. Electoral pacts are undemocratic, because they deny voters the choice. Voters may decide to vote tactically – eg voting for which ever party is most likely to keep the Conservatives out – if they wish to do so, but this must be their own choice, not something that is imposed on them by a stitch-up between parties.
    In Richmond Park, it seems that some Green Party members and supporters were so angry at being denied a Green candidate, and told to vote for Sarah Olney, that they voted for Zac instead. It is likely that many Lib Dem supporters, if they were denied a Lib Dem candidate and told to vote for a Labour or a Green candidate, would instead decide to vote Conservative. So electoral pacts will often not necessarily produce the intended result anyway.
    Incidentally, I feel that Tim Farron should not keep implying, as he does in the interview quoted above, that Labour want a hard Brexit. This is not quite fair. Most Labour MPs have made it clear that they would prefer a soft Brexit, and that indeed their preference would have been for no Brexit at all, but that they are voting for Article 50 out of respect for democracy.

  • Jack Watson

    You rightly give reasons why people shouldn’t vote UKIP, but you miss out the main reason that people won’t vote for Corbyn. His past IRA connections are killing the Labour party outside London, I’m normally a Labour voter, but I would – and will – vote Tory before I would entertain voting for a party led by him. At the moment Lib Dems are attracting support from the Labour party, if you make a pact with them that support may go elsewhere.

  • @ Tonyj. “the Greens are basically an extension of the SNP”.

    Sorry, Tony, but that’s a throw away line with very little substance. Their Leader Patrick Harvie has frequently criticised the SNP inside and outside Holyrood. If you want to criticise them for the Budget deal last week, don’t forget that Willie and colleagues were also negotiating for a budget deal. PS. I agree with your more measured first post about coalitions

    As for Holyrood generally, you’d be amazed how civilized relations are between most MSP’s compared with the nonsense in Westminster….. although the SNP seem to be more tribal than most.

    @ Lorenzo I’m not going to get into a prolonged debate with you, but using the term ‘bleeding heart liberal’ comes straight out of the Donald Trump political joke book, so please think again before using it.

    PS If you would like to put in a transfer for Ruth Davidson to play for Nottingham Forest you would be most welcome. She couldn’t do much worse than the present lot of comedians at Trent Bridge.

  • PHIL THOMAS 7th Feb '17 - 5:32pm

    Interesting that 4 Lib Dem Councillors in Pendle have defected to the Tories ? Have’nt seen that reported anywhere else ? Wonder why ?

  • paul barker 7th Feb '17 - 6:16pm

    @Phil Thomas, could you give us a link for that eg a report in the Local Paper ?

  • I agree that national pacts are dangerous, but local ones are more than justified, especially if it’s with a party/candidate who is firmly in favour of electoral reform. So long as we have FPTP, complaints about denying the electorate a choice are incidental. Working together to have a fighting chance of getting an MP that shares a number of our values, including electoral reform, is legitimate. I’d go so far as to say it’s essential if we ever do want to have a real choice at the polls.

    I’m afraid I too feel that the Scottish Greens under Patrick Harvie are a very different beast to the party Caroline Lucas leads, and for much of the time behave as if they are an off-shoot of the SNP. Every now and then, they might disagree, but they are very aware that their upsurge is down to SNP voters tactically voting for them on the list vote. They only stand out because SNP politicians have signed away their right to disagree with each other in public. While I have huge admiration for Caroline Lucas, and believe she is an asset to Parliament, Patrick Harvie is one of my least liked politicians. Granted, Caroline can be guilty of that Green trait of being selective with the scientific evidence, but she’s still better than many in Parliament.

    I understand that people don’t think Corbyn deserves our co-operation, but if and when we co-operate, it should be for the benefit of the local community, and to get the best practicable politician into HoC, and not to reward or punish one man. I’m very torn on whether it’s better to encourage pro-EU voters to back a pro-EU candidate, or if we should just do everything we can to avert a UKIP win. I think those in the community need to use their judgement.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Feb '17 - 7:36pm

    David Evershed: “In principle we agree with Labour on social liberalism but disagree with them on economic liberalism.”
    No, it is not possible to agree with Labour at the moment because they are not a united party.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Feb '17 - 11:45pm


    Terrific attitude from you as ever, in being fair, this instance, to Labour. I agree with Tim Farron on much but he does need to sometimes calm down !

    David, as in Raw

    Merely a figment of speech no harm meant, just explaining not criticising some who are similar to the Greens or Corbyn on issues, it is not meant as an insult, but as an expression pre-dates Trump by many years, more Reagan !

    A mention of Ruth Davidson , fine, football, you lose my interest as I know nothing Mr. Fawlty !Surely you cannot fault Ruth /!

  • Fiona – I agree that LOCAL pacts are fair enough, as long as the local members are properly consulted. I have no problem with that at all. But the idea that party grandees in the Westminster bubble can decide between themselves and then impose that on their parties across the country is just wrong, and frankly stupid. This is what Paddy never understood when he was romancing Blair in the 1990s. And it seems he still doesn’t.
    David Raw – I’ve worked in the Scottish Parliament and I know a number of MSPs from all parties. I know that personal relations behind the scenes are generally good, and certainly better than Westminster. But /politically/ the Scottish Greens under Patrick Harvie are all about independence and have some very illiberal tendencies. A world away from Caroline Lucas, who I have a lot of time for.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Feb '17 - 1:40am

    @ Tonyj. Oh, did Messrs Ashdown and George say something about pacts at the weekend? Sorry, too busy campaigning to catch up with the Media. But thanks for the sympathy. Freezing cold, though? Maybe in Stoke, not here in Copeland. Returning to HQ in Keswick this afternoon after slight rain – look! a rainbow over our office! Symbolic, bound to be! Rebecca as the Lib Dems’ pot of gold? Oh well, folks, I guess it’s a bit late for cheesy similes – goodnight!

  • Phil Thomas: googling brings no story of that kind. Are you, perhaps, engaging in post truth politics, and seeding falsehoods?

  • Paul Murray 8th Feb '17 - 8:48am

    @Jennie – They were *former* Lib Dem councillors. You can read it by looking at the Pendle Conservatives facebook page. It’s not exactly earth-shattering.

  • Paul Murray 8th Feb '17 - 8:56am

    Apologies – I misunderstood the text in the Conservative statement. They actually *are* current councillors, just “former Lib Dems”. One is a councillor on Pendle Council and three are councillors (for the same ward) in Nelson TC.

  • I see the Lib Dems and the Green Party have formed an electoral pact in Nottinghamshire.

    Nottingham Post, February 04, 2017

    Read more at http://www.nottinghampost.com/liberal-democrats-and-green-party-join-forces-in-nottinghamshire/story-30111780-detail/story.html#lYJmX7BFw8pE83OX.99

  • Laurence Cox 8th Feb '17 - 10:52am

    @Paul Murray
    Actually they did join the Tories pretty quickly after leaving the Lib Dems (29th January). This posting by Tony Greaves about 2/3 of the way down the page has more details:


    This isn’t much of a story. There are councillors changing parties all the time, sometimes because of personal issues with another councillor, sometimes because someone was promised a committee chair or the mayorality and then didn’t get it. Here is an example from Harrow (my borough) in 2013:


    The upshot, incidentally, was that none of the Independent Labour Group were re-elected in 2014 and the council returned to majority Labour control.

  • Katharine – Don’t worry about Ashdown/George. The story appeared very briefly then sank without trace, so it seems that even the media aren’t interested! I’m glad it passed you by. And /thankyou/ for what you are doing. I would so love to come and join you in the campaigns but sadly it’s just not an option for me, for various reasons (distance, work, health). I have sent donations however – and it salves my guilt slightly to think you may have used them to buy some really good coffee and some nice dunking biscuits! x

  • Paul Murray 8th Feb '17 - 1:35pm

    @David Raw – something similar in a by-election on February 17th here in Wokingham where the Green candidate has stopped aside and said – stressing that he was speaking in a personal capacity – “I will be supporting … and I sincerely hope you will too”. This is potentially quite significant as we were only 13 votes short of taking the ward in May 2016 and the Green got 119 votes in that election.

  • You’d have to be pretty dim to extrapolate anything from a defection of a Nelson councillor! I think there is a rota where someone has to defect to somebody else every few months.

  • Speaking as a member of the Green Party I think it’s a great shame that Tim Farron should take this position. I admire Farron because I think he has helped LibDems to get back to their philosophical roots after the disastrous Coalition.
    There are many things about our country that Greens, LibDems and Labour members hold dear. The NHS, decent public services, the beauty of our countryside. The Tories are destroying those things. Realistically, we can only get rid of them by co-operating. We simply must overcome this tribalism that continues to divide us.

  • Katharine Pindar 11th Feb '17 - 1:57am

    Tonyj – thanks for friendly support, Tony. I’m sure your donation would be well used, though I’m not au fait with the financial details. Lots of biscuits donated though, to cheer our leafletters coming back to HQ, and I made a gingerbread, which the Rochford folk said was parkin, but mine was a Cumbrian recipe – anyway, we keep our helpers happy!

    I canvassed with Rebecca yesterday (we were invited in twice in an hour, so didn’t freeze) and that was splendid, she is so animated and articulate that everyone responds to her. I hope next week we can have teams of helpers from all of you who can come and share our enjoyment to go out with us. Meantime I gather we are expecting some well-known company joining us for meetings on Monday and Tuesday. In between there are hustings on Sunday evening, where Rebecca is sure to shine; the competition isn’t up to her standard. The mass leafletting continues tomorrow (I suppose I mean today now!) and I shall be at the seaside again. Full moon tonight, gently caressing the frozen snow-streaked bones of the fells.

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